Balance of Power Swings To Democrats in Red Bank Election

November 12, 2017
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Democratic Red Bank Borough Councilman Edward Zipprich, left, and running mate Michael Ballard celebrate their victory Tuesday night.

By John Burton |

RED BANK — As the results came in on election night, the crestfallen Republican candidates saw the writing on the wall pretty quickly.

When the totals for the borough’s voting districts were tabulated, the numbers showed a strong turnout for the Democratic candidates who won all of the nine districts.

According to unofficial results Wednesday morning from the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office, Democratic incumbent Edward Zipprich was the top vote-getter, winning 1,828 votes, equaling 31.71 percent of votes cast. Zipprich’s running mate, Michael Ballard secured 1,804 votes, or 31.29 percent of the vote. Republican incumbent Linda Schwabenbauer was unsuccessful in her try for a second term, getting 1,107 votes, or 19.2 percent. Republican candidate Dana McArthur, making her first run for elected office, received 1,021 votes, with her total equaling 17.71 percent.

Michael Clancy, the municipal Republican chairman, said of the election’s outcome, “We were running against Christie. We were running against Trump and we were running against the Red Bank Democrats…We were running against a lot.

“There was no way we would have been able to overcome that,” he said, speaking at Schwabenbauer’s Leroy Place home Tuesday night.

Schwabenbauer agreed with her party’s chairman, believing the election was out of their hands. “I don’t think there is anything that would have made a difference.”

“I made some blunders,” in the campaign strategy, acknowledged Clancy, without elaborating, “but I don’t think there was anything we could have done to make a difference.”

At Democratic headquarters, held at a former dry cleaners/laundromat on the corner of Monmouth and Pearl streets, the tone was jubilant.

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Even before results were known there was a happy crowd expecting a happy ending to the evening. Party poll challengers had conducted an informal exit poll of voters which showed, before votes were finished being cast, that Democrats appeared to be mounting a comfortable lead. And that led Zipprich and Ballard to thank family, friends and volunteers for the work and support for the campaign.

“How about this?” joked former Democratic mayor Edward J. McKenna Jr. “The only two to make their victory speech before the votes are counted.”

Zipprich said old school retail politics served the Democrats well. He and Ballard knocked on an estimated 6,700 doors, speaking with voters, Zipprich said, to get the message out.

“That’s absolutely a record,” for the number of homes candidates approached, McKenna said. McKenna added that it was the first time in his memory the party candidates carried all of the districts.

Later, Zipprich said the success came from having a planned strategy and executing it. That and the fact that, “So many people believed in us and we believed in Red Bank,” were contributing factors in the outcome, he said.

Ballard, who is a member of the borough Board of Education, had been unsuccessful running for a council seat two years ago. “There’s no worse feeling than losing,” he acknowledged. “But there’s no better motivation than losing when you should have won.”

The results give the Democrats a solid 4-2 majority on the council with a Democrat, Pasquale Menna, holding the mayor’s seat. Over the past year, it was a 3-3 split between Democrats and Republicans, with Menna available for casting any tie-breaking votes.

For much of the last 25 years, Democrats have retained majority control, as well as the mayor’s office. But in the last few years the party had lost and then regained footing, losing the majority for a year as Republicans made inroads.

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With Democrats in control, Menna said there is much to be done, not the least is the future plans for the controversial redevelopment proposal for the municipal-owned White Street parking lot – a plan that could include the long-discussed parking facility. Menna, though, intimated that moving forward with it remains in question given the divide that exists among the stakeholders. He called one stakeholder “intransigent,” in its demands.

Zipprich didn’t specifically mention it election night, but in the past, he, Ballard and the other council Democrats, have said the process should be slowed down and reevaluated.

Republicans have remained committed to moving forward with seeing a mixed-use project on the site.

And Schwabenbauer said Tuesday that issue and other plans are still on her to-do list for the remainder of her term, which ends at the end of the year.

“It just means we’ll have to work that much harder to get things done,” she said. She specifically mentioned the White Street project, along with establishing a multiyear financial plan with the borough chief financial officer.

McArthur said the campaign was a rewarding experience. “I learned so much and made so many great relationships,” she said, not ruling out another run in the future.

“We’ll find a role for Dana in Red Bank,” Clancy said, possibly seeing if she’d serve on one of the volunteer boards or committees.


This article was first published in the Nov. 9-16, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.

 

 

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